[Rd] Bounty on Error Checking

Ben Bolker bbolker at gmail.com
Fri Jan 4 16:10:56 CET 2013

On 13-01-04 07:48 AM, Laurent Gautier wrote:
> On 2013-01-04 12:00, r-devel-request at r-project.org wrote:
>> Message: 16 Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2013 22:52:44 +0000 From: Ben Bolker
>> <bbolker at gmail.com> To: <r-devel at stat.math.ethz.ch> Subject: Re: [Rd]
>> Bounty on Error Checking Message-ID:
>> <loom.20130103T234406-301 at post.gmane.org> Content-Type: text/plain;
>> charset="us-ascii" ivo welch <ivo.welch <at> anderson.ucla.edu> writes:
>>> >
>>> >Dear R developers---I just spent half a day debugging an R program,
>>> >which had two bugs---I selected the wrongly named variable, which
>>> >turns out to have been a scalar, which then happily multiplied as if
>>> >it was a matrix; and another wrongly named variable from a data frame,
>>> >that triggered no error when used as a[["name"]] or a$name .  there
>>> >should be an option to turn on that throws an error inside R when one
>>> >does this.  I cannot imagine that there is much code that wants to
>>> >reference non-existing columns in data frames.
>>> >
>>> >I know you guys are saints for developing without financial support.
>>> >but maybe we non-insider end-users can help by putting up a bounty
>>> >list on R-project for us end-users to contribute to?  I would pledge
>>> >$500 to a $10,000 fund that funds a project to comprehensively enhance
>>> >the programming and debugging aspects of R.  it would only take 20 of
>>> >us to make this possible.
>>> >
>>> >personally, I think basic nudgeware is the way to go.  when a user
>>> >starts R in interactive mode, there should be a note that says,
>>> >
>>> >  please donate $20 to the R foundation to support the development.
>>> >press enter to continue or enter your contribution number to avoid
>>> >this message in the future .
>>> >
>>> >you can even accept the same string if need be.  it's a nudge only,
>>> >not a requirement.
>>     I did bring this idea up briefly 5 years ago (for whatever that's
>> worth)Lhttp://tolstoy.newcastle.edu.au/R/e2/devel/07/05/3202.html.
>> I very much doubt R-core will go for this, but there's nothing stopping
>> some private citizen with time and energy on their hands from setting
>> up their own private bounty system.  As I see it the challenges would
>> be:
>> * setting up and administering the web site and the bounty system
>> (i.e. figuring out rules for deciding when a bounty should be paid)
>> * convincing the R community that their money is safe with you;
>> * figuring out an appropriate payment/escrow system (Paypal?)
>> * dealing with any tax and reporting issues relevant to your locality of
>> receiving and disbursing money
>> It's conceivable that some existing R-oriented entity (Mango Solutions,
>> Revolution, RStudio?) would want/be willing to partner.
>>    This won't take care of getting stuff into core R, but (1)
>> well-worked out proofs of concept would go a long way to convincing
>> R-core; (2) a lot can be done outside of core R if (for
>> example) you moved over to using data.table everywhere instead of
>> data frames (only translating to data frames where absolutely necessary).
>> (I would love a scalar data type for R, but I don't think that
>> can be done without a near-complete rewrite ...)
>>    Ben Bolker
> The Pypy project is funding the developments of new features this way
> (http://pypy.org/ - right side of the page, there are proposals, how
> much they cost to implement, and how much was donated). There must be
> others, I am just more aware of that one.
> A potential difficulty is that all of R-core is possibly already funded
> (tenure positions in the academia, I'd guess) and might be moderately
> sensitive to the fact that a given feature should be implemented because
> people are paying to see it appear.
   To clarify, I am *not* suggesting that R-core be funded this way, nor
that bounty suggestions be implemented in base R or recommended
packages, or in fact that R-core necessarily have anything to do with
such a bounty scheme.  Based on past conversations I think setting up
mechanisms for additional funding is low on R-core's priority list, and
I certainly agree that they would be sensitive about "subsidized"
features.  I imagined solutions being produced in the form of packages
or (in a pinch) patches to specified (stable or development) versions of
R.  I would be hopeful that high-quality patches might then be
considered by R-core ...


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